The Phoenix Suns continue their impressive start to the season, with a 114-109 win over the previously undefeated Philadelphia 76ers (5-1).
Devin Booker led the charge with 40 points, while Ricky Rubio added 21 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Aron Baynes chipped in 15 and Kelly Oubre Jr. 14 as the Suns move to 5-2 on the season.
Here are the key takeaways from the game:
Booker's big game
Efficiency has been considered as one of Devin Booker's weaknesses in his otherwise polished offensive game. Through seven games this season, Booker's been as efficient as he's ever been in his career and that continued in this win over the 76ers.
Booker poured in 40 points shooting a jaw-dropping 15-for-19 (78.9%) from the field, 3-for-4 (75.0%) from 3-point land and a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line.
:sunny: @DevinBook drops 40 PTS (15-19 FGM) as the @Suns defeat PHI to improve to 5-2 on the season! #RisePHX pic.twitter.com/iETqilJVGm- NBA (@NBA) November 5, 2019
He had a relatively quiet first half considering the final product - Booker dropped 27 of his 40 points in the second half and only missed two shots in the process. He went 10-for-12 from the field after halftime and was clutch late in the fourth quarter.
The score was tied at 100 with under four minutes remaining when Booker closed this game out for the Suns. He buried a step-back jumper, to which Philly answered with a pair of free throws. Booker then got a floater to go, followed by an and-1 finish at the rim to score seven-straight points for Phoenix to put the 76ers on the ropes. He iced then iced the game with a pair of free throws, dealing Philadelphia their first loss of the season.
The 23-year-old star is averaging 26.1 points shooting 53.5% from the field, 50.0% from 3-point range and 90.3% from the free-throw line - not bad for someone who's problem is supposed to be inefficiency.
The Suns are here to stay
Not many people pegged the Phoenix Suns to be a breakout team at the start of the season but here they are, with a 5-2 record, knocking off the only remaining undefeated team in the league.
As already mentioned, Booker has been a star. Kelly Oubre, Ricky Rubio and Dario Saric have all been very reliant starters. Aron Baynes has been a gift from above since being inserted into the starting lineup. Frank Kaminsky, Mikal Bridges, Javon Carter and Cameron Johnson have all stepped up in different games off the bench.
This team has now beaten the 76ers and LA Clippers - two teams that many had projected to be an NBA Finals matchup. Their two losses come from a one-point overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets on the road and a one point loss to the Utah Jazz - two other labeled contenders in the Western Conference.
According to NBA stats, their 7.8 net rating is fourth-best in the NBA behind the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.
All signs point to this team's start being legitimate, and it's all without the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NBA Draft Deandre Ayton, who's serving a 25-game suspension.
Jump on the bandwagon now, because the Suns are here to stay.
Horford steps up for Philly
Without All-Star big man Joel Embiid, the 76ers turned to Al Horford and Tobias Harris, with the frontcourt duo piling up the points on the road.
Horford finished with 32 points, knocking down 5-of-8 from beyond the arc, while Harris recorded 24 points and 10 rebounds.
In a bruising matchup against his former Boston Celtics teammate Aron Baynes, Horford was the 76ers best option on offence, spacing the floor with his three-point shooting, knocking down mid-range jumpers for fun and finishing at the rim, getting buckets every which way.
While Harris was effective through the first three quarters, he went scoreless in the fourth, with Horford picking up the slack, scoring 11 of his 32 in the final period, including a couple of high-flying plays above the rim.
pic.twitter.com/5QQknBgHEI- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) November 5, 2019
With the 76ers struggling to create offence for long stretches, Horford's ability to put up points and be a steadying hand was much needed, especially without Embiid.
Rough night for 76ers backcourt
Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson struggled to make their impact on the game as Rubio and Booker ran the show for Phoenix.
Simmons was effective on the defensive end, tying his career-high with seven steals (five in the first half), but the Aussie managed just six points on 2-of-8 shooting, six assists, five rebounds and four turnovers. The Suns made life difficult for Simmons packing the paint all night, with Baynes waiting at the rim as the ultimate deterrent.
Phoenix did a great job stifling the 76ers' transition game, holding them to just eight fast-break points, forcing Simmons to operate in the half-court, which limited his effectiveness. Encouragingly, Simmons was effective as a screener in the pick-and-roll with Harris as the ball-handler, which helped the 76ers forward get off to a fast start scoring the ball
It wasn't much better for Richardson, who recorded eight points on 3-of-11 shooting and four turnovers. He had his hands full all night, struggling to stay in front of Booker and Rubio, who combined for 61 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds.
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